Before he was an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and director, Moss Hart was a poor, stage-struck Brooklyn dreamer who, after years of writing submissions, rejections galore and sheer persistence, finally grasped the brass ring. He chronicled the sweatiness and sweetness of his first success in the colorful 1959 memoir Act One, which quickly became one of the signature books about the theater. Veteran studio head and Sunrise at Campobello author Dore Schary lovingly adapted it for film in this shrewdly cast recounting of how fledgling Hart (effectively earnest George Hamilton) teamed with Broadway legend George S. Kaufman (a marvelously dry Jason Robards, Jr.) to write the 1930 Hollywood satire Once in a Lifetime. Featuring Jack Klugman, George Segal, Eli Wallach, Sam Levene, Bert Convy (as heartthrob actor Archie Leach, later Hollywood-bound as Cary Grant) and a sprightly score by Skitch Henderson, Act One is a warm, deeply felt valentine to the stage and the shaky but starry launch of the career of one of its leading lights.
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